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Chip Kelly knew Mariota would be a Heisman winner


Soon, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota will win the Heisman Trophy. His former coach at Oregon knew it would happen several years ago.

“When he was a freshman, I remarked, ‘This kid is going to win the Heisman,’” Eagles coach Chip Kelly told reporters on Thursday. “He’s a special young man and he’s a hell of a football player and he deserves it. But I don’t think it’s any impact that I had. The type of kid that he is, he had an impact on everybody that had an opportunity to coach him. I’m sure [Oregon coach] Mark Helfrich and [Oregon offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach] Scott Frost would tell you the same thing. He’s just a special young man and very deserving of the award.”

So what impresses Kelly the most?

“I think it’s how he handles himself, his demeanor and all of those things, that really kind of sets him apart,” Kelly said. “He’s a special young man from that standpoint. . . . He’s just got a gift for playing football. He’s everything you want. He can throw the ball, he can run. He’s the most talented kid that I coached in college.”

And that will do nothing to quiet the speculation that Kelly, who views the draft as an overrated crapshoot, will do whatever he has to do to move in position to get Mariota in April.